This is the first of two blogs on my visit to Vancouver and San Francisco. This part deals with the travelling to and from America and the second is about my LJ experience.
This blog is also intended as a supplement to Bob #2 blog http://lumberjocks.com/topics/1766#reply-19323 Traveling post 9-11 in North America.
The travelling between Helsinki and Vancouver, via Frankfurt went without any problems what so ever – we flew with the German airline Lufthansa. The security restrictions for entry into Americas was reduced as of the 1st January 2008, so No need to remove our shoes, or to go through the second security check point.
Arrival at Vancouver, going through the immigration control was really easy and straight forward, a few strange questions, but it was all over in 15 minutes, even with the large queues. Then onto collect our baggage – we just found the carousel, when the first bag on the belt was mine, then my wife’s bags came, our friends bags followed, but I was still waiting for my second suitcase and waiting and waiting – then there were no more bags coming out – Oh S#!T, what a way to start the holiday – went to the baggage claim place and queued for 45 minutes to report the lost piece, just as it was my turn, I got a call, you bag has just come out of the hole. 1 hour 30 minutes later than the rest.
Any way we picked up the limo and got to whistler. I won’t bore you with the details of the holiday, other than to say it was BLOODY expensive there, even with the favourable exchange rate it cost more than double the amount we pay in the Alps! But the skiing was perfect, the best ever.
Ok onto the trip to San Francisco. We booked the flight with Air Canada – so queued and waited to check in, only to be told, that they had subcontracted that flight to United Airlines – So of we toddle with 4 baggage carts and queued in the United queue – got the front of the line and gave our papers to the check-in assistant – only to be told that we had to use there electronic check in machines first – So baggage and carts out of the line, found a machine filled in the necessary information into the computer (which was just confirming the information they already had on file), then back into the United queue again. Then they present us with more paperwork to fill in, why this cannot all be done online, or at least print the forms before you arrive at the airport I do not know. Any way then to US Customs – they guy on the desk was really great, but I was a bit surprised when they took my finger prints and photograph. The customs guy was really patient with my wife, as he waited for her to adjust her make-up and hair before having her photograph taken.
The United flight was a nightmare – I felt like one of the factory farmed chickens, the seating was so narrow, and the knee space was at an absolute minimum – The passenger in front of my wife was a real A## Hole, he insisted on having his seat fully reclined for the whole flight, regardless of our pleas for a little space. WE WILL NEVER FLY WITH UNITED AGAIN they are a shambles.
Arrived in SFO – straight through to baggage claim – no customs or immigration – I liked this very much.
Well the next 4 days are covered in Part two, but the flight home from SFO to HEL, was like the flight out, not a problem Check-in, Customs, Immigration all went like a dream– I am just glad that my wife did not find out that they allowed a 5th suitcase free for a couple (unofficial), other wise Macys shares would have gone through the roof.
-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (http://www.poydatjatuolit.fi)